Wednesday, March 22, 2023
March 22, 2023

Violet Ann Hare (Letendre)

 Violet Ann Hare

(nee: Letendre)

Born: Lac St. Anne, Alberta,

27 July, 1926

Died: Salt Spring Island, B.C.,

30 November, 2014

Violet was born in the Metis settlement on the shores of Lac Ste. Anne, a lake sacred to First Nations and Metis people from all across Canada. She returned almost every year for the annual Lac St. Anne Pilgrimage in order to honour her ancestors, in particular her grandmother. A lifetime resident of Edmonton and more recently Calgary, she came to love Salt Spring Island, moving here in 2013 to live with her daughter (Carol Ann Arnold, nee Brown) and son-in-law (Stephen), Island residents since 2001. She is also survived by a son, Richard Norman Brown of Calgary; two granddaughters: Forest M. Arnold (Vancouver); Stephanie M. Arnold-Simonpietri (Pascal; Paris, France); one grandson, Jarrett E. Brown (Calgary); and one great-grandson, Hugo Paul Simonpietri (Paris).

Before beginning school at age 7, “Vi” spoke only Cree (Michif). Cruelly, she was made to begin her working life at the age of 8, being farmed out to keep house and to give care to elderly and infirm people in the area. Daily she trudged several miles to and from jobs and school, even on the fiercest days of winter. Eventually she gained some relief by being given use of a sled and dogs, before finally being loaned a horse. The sum of her wages was $5 a month. When aged 16 she became a cook for large “extra gangs” on the Northern Alberta Railroad. Approximately a year later she began to cook in lumber camps, where she met her eventual husband, Norman Brown.

In the last days of World War II, her dear brother Norman was killed in the battle to liberate Holland. At about that time Vi moved from the bush to the city of Edmonton where she worked as a housekeeper in local hospitals. Able to afford only the most modest accommodation, in the poorest area of the city, she was nevertheless a “Tiger Mother”, insisting that her children get the education she could never get for herself. Her daughter and son were the first — and as far as they know — the only members of an enormous, extended family to earn university degrees (Carol earning four and “Rick”, two), with both receiving many professional accolades during their careers. Carol became the teacher her mother had always wanted to be. Once having an empty nest, Vi went back to school to earn a General Education Diploma with an emphasis on the Teachers’ Aid Program in order to find a way to express her love for children. She never joined the teaching profession because her legs, so harmed by heavy toil and inadequate winter protection during her childhood, were not equal to the physical demands of teaching, and also because the abandonment and abuse she had experienced when so young had left her with chronically low self-esteem and a feeling of inferiority. Her emotionally crippling early experience was at least compensated by the great pride she felt for her children, a sense of pride that her children felt in turn for her.

In spite of the struggles that weighed upon her, Vi’s personality was that of a resourceful individual who often had a great sense of fun. She was especially thrilled to travel several times in Europe and once spent nearly 2 months in East Africa during periods when her son-in-law held positions in French and East African universities. Right up to her 70s she loved to ride motorcycles, touring Canada’s eastern seaboard and the American South-west with her son Rick. She also loved parties, of which she was often the life, a raconteur with a bag full of jokes for any occasion. Many of her stories were coaxed from her over and over, year after year at family gatherings. Her passage leaves a large void in many lives to be filled eventually by her legacy of indomitable spirit which will motivate strength in those who were fortunate enough to know her or the story of her life.

Vi’s family would like to thank the staff of the Lady Minto Extended Care Unit and Doctors Gummeson and Crichton for their compassionate care.

A Catholic funeral will be held on Salt Spring Island this coming Saturday.

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